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Mandarin helps students think globally

Bibb elementary students are thinking globally. It's the third year Mandarin Chinese is being taught at Bibb Schools, brought here by former Superintendent Romain Dallemand.

Jordan Thomas, 9, and most of his fellow fourth grade classmates have been learning the language since the system started offering it. "I can probably go to China one day and get a job," he said.

Each class has 20 minutes of Mandarin taught daily. Teacher Jessica Chiang made the 15-hour flight from Shanghai to Atlanta every year since the program started. "They actually want to speak Chinese and talk to Chinese people," she said.

Jaleah Adside put her skills to work with a new neighbor. "And I asked her her name and she was speaking Chinese, so I had to communicate with her in Chinese," said Adside.

Kids said learning the language isn't easy. "It's very challenging to learn. Some of the words you can't quite pronounce them right, so you have to go home and practice them and practice them until you get them right," said Anise Gainey, student.

Students learn the alphabet, numbers, animals, family members, how to spell and how to say their favorite color. Future doctor Paris Goolsby said Mandarin will come in handy if she has a patient who speaks it.

"I can't learn nothing about them if I don't speak Chinese or their language," said Goolsby.

Kids said taking Mandarin makes them want to learn more languages and travel around the world.

Deputy Superintendent of School Operations Kelley Castlin-Gacutan said the district only provides transportation for the teachers and the Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State handles everything else.

When the program first started three years ago 25 teachers taught at 25 schools. This year 14 instructors are teaching at seven elementary schools from grades K to 5.

When we asked about the program's future Gacutan said they are looking at the program on a year-to-year basis.


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